According to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures, ecommerce had its worst ever month in September as sales grew just 0.7% compared to the same time last year.
Simultaneously, it was the worst September performance for retail sales across all channels since BRC records began, falling 1.3% in total.
The consortium has blamed the figures on a lack of clarity around Brexit, saying the possibility of no-deal is weighing heavily on consumer purchasing decisions, and this is hitting retailers hard. The figures are in stark contrast to around this time last year, where ecommerce grew by a third in November according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Despite online sales up 1.9% from the previous year, they saw the lowest growth ever recorded by the BRC’s Retail Sales Monitor. The figures have revealed the lowest 12-month average since August 2009, when the UK was in recession. While the pace of online retail growth was forecast to slow to single digits back in the beginning of last year, it’s clear that other factors, with Brexit cited in particular, have had a significant impact on recent retail performance.
“With the spectre of no-deal weighing increasingly on consumer purchasing decisions, it is no surprise that sales growth has once again fallen into the red,” commented Helen Dickinson OBE, BRC Chief Executive. “Many consumers held off from non-essential purchases, or shopped around for the bigger discounts.”
Dickinson went on to predict the longer-term prospect of retail sales would continue to be ‘bleak’ with the 12-month average once again plumbing new depths at just 0.2%. She went on to say that although online sales growth was the lowest on record, it still ‘compared favourably’ to the decline in growth at physical stores.
“With four months of negative sales growth since March, the ongoing political gridlock surrounding Brexit is harming both consumers and retailers,” she continued. “Clarity is needed over our future trading relationship with our closest neighbours, and it is vitally important that Britain does not leave the EU without a deal.”
Earlier in the year, CI.N asked the trade whether they thought bike shops were fearful of Brexit, and if the delays and other factors were deflecting consumer spending; read what some bike shop owners had to say on the topic. Alternatively, you can catch up on our No Deal Series where industry players discuss their take on Brexit as it unfolds, and what it could mean for the trade.